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Re: What mode to shoot in, Raw or Jpeg?

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What mode to shoot in, Raw or Jpeg?
December 17, 2010 09:01AM
This is an age old discussion among photographers, pro and amateur alike.

I shoot raw almost exclusively. Raw captures all the information coming into the lens hitting the chip and throws away nothing. Later, in your editing software, you make decisions as to how you want that raw to be processed, and how the resulting jpeg file will look. You have every single bit of data captured to work with. Raw is a lossless format

Shooting in jpeg mode still starts with the same raw data, and then the camera's internal computer takes over. Depending on the settings you have chosen, the camera decides how your final jpeg will look. Then it saves that resulting jpeg and throws away the raw and all the other data that it decided not to use. Jpeg is a lossy format. In fact, each time you resave a jpeg file, a little bit of data is thrown away in the compression. This is why you should never repeatedly save a jpeg file over and over. Do your work and save it once.

The problem I have with jpeg and why I don't use it, is I don't want the camera making the decisions for me and then throwing out data. I save all my raw files forever, so that even after I have made a jpeg from them, I can still go back to the raw file and create a new, often times better, jpeg. And as software gets better and better, which we all know it does with new versions, it is better able to process those old raw files, giving me an even better jpeg when I convert.

Raw does take up more hard drive space, but hard drives are so cheap now, this is not really a concern. Some people think raw is harder to deal with, but really, it is not. If you open your raw and it looks good, then all you do is convert it. If it needs some adjustments, they are easy to do.

I ask people why spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on a camera and not use it to its fullest potential? It's like buying a Ferrari and unplugging two of the cylinders.
avatar Re: What mode to shoot in, Raw or Jpeg?
December 17, 2010 09:12AM
There is a good discussion of this at; http://www.digital-photography-school.com/raw-vs-jpeg

I have an expensive camera and shoot in jpeg. I've found no perceivable loss in image quality and I, usually, don't have to mess with it later.
Re: What mode to shoot in, Raw or Jpeg?
December 17, 2010 09:22AM
Quote
Dave
There is a good discussion of this at; http://www.digital-photography-school.com/raw-vs-jpeg

I have an expensive camera and shoot in jpeg. I've found no perceivable loss in image quality and I, usually, don't have to mess with it later.
Most people who shoot jpeg say that, and of course, it is your camera and your right to choose what mode to shoot in.

I just don't like the idea of my final image looking the way an engineer in Japan thinks it should look. (the guy who wrote the algorithm)

Raw adds one small step, conversion. No, you can't just take the file and upload it to your online photo sharing site, you have to convert. This is the step that scares a lot of people.

That is a good article, and all the advantages he points out for raw are the reason I choose that mode.

I've got some 6 year old raw files from my old Canon 10d that looked crappy to me back then, but now with the newest version of Photoshop, I'm realizing that I can get some great images from those files. If I had shot jpeg, I'd be stuck with whatever the camera gave me.
avatar Re: What mode to shoot in, Raw or Jpeg?
December 17, 2010 11:08AM
Quote
hotrod4x5
...I just don't like the idea of my final image looking the way an engineer in Japan thinks it should look. (the guy who wrote the algorithm)

I don't see it that way. I control the content of the photo, that's all that matters to me.

Quote

Raw adds one small step, conversion. No, you can't just take the file and upload it to your online photo sharing site, you have to convert. This is the step that scares a lot of people.

That doesn't scare me, or anyone else I know. I just don't want to bother with it for such a small gain.

Quote

That is a good article, and all the advantages he points out for raw are the reason I choose that mode.

The author points out the very reasons I choose not use use raw.

Quote

I've got some 6 year old raw files from my old Canon 10d that looked crappy to me back then, but now with the newest version of Photoshop, I'm realizing that I can get some great images from those files. If I had shot jpeg, I'd be stuck with whatever the camera gave me.

I can't see enough difference to worry about it. I'm old school though. When learning photography long ago I could not afford much film or developing. I learned how to take a good picture instead of having to fix it in the dark room.
avatar Re: What mode to shoot in, Raw or Jpeg?
December 17, 2010 09:54AM
RAW <==> film negative, you've got the original image with full content captured. You have your lifetime to play with it to create images. bit depth is 10 to 16 bits.
JPEG <==> paper print, you're stuck with someone else's processing. You can re-edit it, but you're limited in what you can do. bit depth is 8 bits.

My serious stuff is in RAW.
My snapshots are in JPEG.
Re: What mode to shoot in, Raw or Jpeg?
December 17, 2010 11:37AM
For my BA in communications/photography, I learned how to process black and white and color negatives and make prints from both in the dark room. We weren't "fixing" things as you say in the darkroom, we were making better prints with dodging and burning than you could get with a straight print, which means no dodging or burning. I still strive to get the best shot in the camera so I have a good negative to work with.

Ansel Adams is recognized as a master photographer world wide and printed all his own work. I don't think there's anyone who would say that because he was a master in the darkroom and did extensive dodging and burning to his prints that he was "fixing" bad negatives. He was making the best possible print from an excellent negative. But even an excellent negative cannot give you awesome prints "straight."

It's the same with digital and using raw. I am creating a negative of sorts, that I then use in Photoshop or Capture NX to make the best possible Jpeg I can. Sometimes I am happy with a straight jpeg, but many times I need to dodge or burn areas, or reduce contrast or alter colors if the white balance was off, and the list goes on and on. You can do most of that with a jpeg from your camera, but you are going to be working on less than half the data captured by the sensor, and therefore degrading the image with each step you take. One thing you can't really do is alter the exposure to a jpeg. Sure, you can lighten or darken, but with raw, you can literally change the exposure, as if you had chosen a different fstop and shutter speed when you shot the image, without any image degradation.

With that said, I know I am not going to convince you to change your mind. Only you can do that. I challenge you to shoot jpeg+raw for a while. When you get a jpeg that looks bad (like that one you mentioned in the other thread), use the raw file and a good converter to adjust it.

If raw is useless, why do camera manufacturers put it in their cameras?
avatar Re: What mode to shoot in, Raw or Jpeg?
December 17, 2010 01:18PM
I'm thinking that there is an issue with editing with a jpeg file in that the image is re-encoded each time it's saved leading to an accumulated error. A pro friend of mine does all the editing in RAW and the final final is saved in jpeg for printing and transmitting as the file is much smaller. It is true that the first generation jpeg from a RAW file will be nearly the same as the Raw image to the naked eye.



Old Dude
Re: What mode to shoot in, Raw or Jpeg?
December 22, 2010 08:35PM
I don't understand why this is not clear to all. For the casual photographer, JPEG may be enough. For any serious photographer, that photographer will edit (GIMP, Photoshop, Lightroom) the photos.

The art of photography has always been twofold: capturing the image (front end) and processing (back end). The vast majority of photographers know little of the back end. It has been this was since the Instamatic. Nowadays, the back end is all about editing.

Why edit? Two possible reasons. 1) Make the photo as good as it can be, or 2) Create an unusual image, ie. add special effects. For me it is always #1.

Part of this is making the image fit ones own taste. Brightness. Contrast. Color saturation. Sharpness. These are things that one likes to tweek to make the photo as good as it can be, but this is a personal choice.

A few random comments...

Most photographers today apply too much color saturation IMO. To me, color saturation is like womens' makeup, there is just the right amount. Too much is too much. But pros apply a lot of saturation, because it sells photos.

JPEG is a universal format. Nearly every device/program accepts them. That makes them more convenient.

Generally to process a RAW image, the RAW image is converted to a different (non-lossy) format. I recommend using a program that does this in the background, like Lightroom, or converting to TIFF. TIFF is almost as universal as JPEG, but is lossless.
avatar Re: What mode to shoot in, Raw or Jpeg?
December 25, 2010 12:29PM
I'm not skilled/experience enough to shoot JPEG only. Most of the major manufacturers have algorithms good enough so that JPEG quality suffices, but I often get exposure or white balance incorrect so it's RAW for me. I also like to do mild HDR tonemapping in certain instances, and that's impossible to do properly with an 8-bit file.

I think everybody, regardless of how skilled they are, can benefit from shooting RAW. However, I also understand that some people are skilled enough to get gorgeous photos straight from the camera so they'd rather not spend their time post-processing. I still think most of those gorgeous photos could be made even better because of the enhance dynamic range and detail (nobody, not even Canon or Nikon's $5000+ cameras, get perfect JPEG results in-camera) available from RAW.

But alas, to each his own. Maybe someday I'll be confident enough to shoot JPEG and come up with good photos. Until then I'll keep shooting RAW so I can correct my exposure and color mistakes as much as possible while still honing my skills.
Re: What mode to shoot in, Raw or Jpeg?
December 26, 2010 10:04AM
Quote
dqniel


But alas, to each his own. Maybe someday I'll be confident enough to shoot JPEG and come up with good photos. Until then I'll keep shooting RAW so I can correct my exposure and color mistakes as much as possible while still honing my skills.
You aren't correcting YOUR mistakes, you are compensating for the inefficient jpeg processing engine built in to the camera. No camera will ever be able to make as good a jpeg as you can from a raw file using Photoshop or other other software.
avatar Re: What mode to shoot in, Raw or Jpeg?
December 26, 2010 12:40PM
Quote
dqniel
Maybe someday I'll be confident enough to shoot JPEG and come up with good photos. Until then I'll keep shooting RAW so I can correct my exposure and color mistakes as much as possible while still honing my skills.

My camera has a mode that records both JPEG and raw. I've been using that as I get used to the new camera.
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